BEAR FORK TALES: SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Emma's "Field Of Flowers" Lives On


Sign welcomes visitors to the backwoods of Calhoun's Crummies Creek

Emma Metz, Calhoun's reclusive mountain woman who died December 22, 2009 at age 86, is remembered this time of year as her field of flowers announces the coming of Spring.

By Bob Weaver 2013

I thought of Emma Metz the morning after Calhoun temperatures dropped to nearly zero, living in her tiny cabin "back of beyond" on Crummies Creek.

She is among the most reclusive people I have ever met, a true woman of the hills with survival skills that are rapidly fading, never having running water, electric, telephone or even a mail box.

A fierce independence that almost raises the hair on your head.

Emma once told me that people become hostage to things of convenience, declaring them unnecessary to a good life.

"He's (pointing up) in charge anyway, we just mess it up," she said.

During my first visit a few years ago it was cold, and Emma was dutifully feeding a long log into her open wood burner to heat her original house which was slowly falling down around her these past fifty years or so.

Admiring her keepsakes gathered over the years

Emma is a fiercely independent woman, with
survival skills unknown to most in the 21st century

A while back, relatives built her a new one-room house with real insulation, just downstream from her original dwelling. After considerable reluctance, she moved to the new structure with her dog and cat.

When I visited her Sunday, some helpful neighbors had cut some firewood and placed it the end of her bridge.

Between the two houses are Emma's fields of flowers, hundreds of daffodils and other varieties which come to life in early Spring, bringing prideful delight to Emma.

I asked her how old she was. She said "I can't remember," now suffering from memory lapses, and at times unable to articulate her thoughts, an ability she seems to have lost in the past three years. I think she is about 82, but she could be older.

She smiled, laughed and made a joke about a supply of Ramen noodles I brought, saying "They're too easy!" (to fix). She fries a lot of pan cakes.

She wanted to return some books I gave her a few years ago, indicating she no longer was able to read, then insisting she gave me something in return for my "gifts." Asking me "You camp?" she handed me a well used tea kettle, which I readily accepted. She also gave me some flower bulbs.

While the temperature was barely above 20, she insisted on a tour of her flower field, walking this time without a cane, carefully pointing out each plant.

Newspaper columnist Dave Peyton calls folks like Emma "West Virginia Originals."

While her life speaks of the original, when she is gone, it will certainly be about endings.

Emma is still prideful of her field of flowers,
slowing popping above ground on a cold February day

See also EMMA'S FIELD OF FLOWERS - Back Of Beyond